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Chips off the Planetary Block... ...Building Planetary Debris Disks

  • James Graham
  • Paul Kalas
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Abstract

IN OUR own Solar System primitive bodies, such as comets and asteroids, are continually being eroded, releasing puffs and tails of debris, seeding interplanetary space with tiny dust grains. Born within the thin plane containing most of the solid mass orbiting the Sun, the trillions of dust grains form a tenuous, flattened cloud called a circumstellar disk. If gravity were the only force acting on these grains, then they would continue to orbit the Sun. However, various small but persistent influences, including radiation pressure from the Sun and drag forces, either cause grains to spiral inward to the Sun or blow them out to interstellar space. No worries. Asteroids and comets continue to fill the depleted debris disk with fresh grains. From our perspective on Earth, this dust is visible as the faint band of zodiacal light or the ‘false dawn.’ This is sunlight reflected from transitory dust in the plane of the Solar System.

Keywords

Hubble Space Telescope Asteroidal Belt Extrasolar Planet Circumstellar Disk Adaptive Optic System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Praxis Publishing Ltd. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Graham
    • 1
  • Paul Kalas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeley

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